Could QPR's mercenary syndrome strike at the top of the table?

QPR 1

Queen’s Park Rangers have suffered a disastrous season in part due to players who are perceived 'not to care'. Could the same be said at the top of the table now or in the future?

Nobody really knows what went wrong for QPR this season – was it the owner Tony Fernandes, was it the ex-manager Mark Hughes, was it his replacement Harry Redknapp, or was it the players?

The away fans booed their team off the pitch on Sunday as both Reading and QPR were relegated to the Championship in one fell swoop, neither side capable of breaking the 0-0 deadlock after 94 minutes.

Jose Bosingwa came in for some criticism for laughing as he exited the pitch and down the tunnel which, at the very least, was disrespectful and inappropriate in the context of his team having just been relegated, leading QPR loan star Joey Barton to describe him, along with a number of his former colleagues as ‘maggots’ and ‘w*****s’.

Bosingwa may well laugh – he earned a reported £65,000 per week. Christopher Samba who was signed by Redknapp in January for a club record fee of £12.5 million earned a reported £100,000 per week.

The problem is, as I often find myself asserting like a broken record, is that money seldom equates to success. That remains the case whether you’re in the top four or the relegation zone. It remains the case whether we’re discussing transfer fees or player wages.

Players labeled ‘mercenaries’ for signing to clubs purely on a financial basis are never going to be motivated by anything other than a pay check and if they’re in receipt of that pay check week in, week out, regardless of form, fitness, attitude or application, then what difference does it make?

Players like Bosingwa went to QPR for the money, knowing they could just laugh all the way to the bank. Any self-respecting top-level professional footballer wants to win, wants to improve, and wants to perform. Bags of cash is a bonus that they eventually become accustomed to as a by-product of their talent.

Where do Manchester City come into all this? They too, have underachieved this term and there are several players for whom the finger of blame can be pointed at.

Players on ridiculous contracts are not going to be as motivated as those on sensible, sliding-scale performance-bases contracts that only increase in value when the player improves and cements his status in the team.

At school there were one or two more affluent classmates of mine whose parents promised them cars or cash rewards for good exam results. At the time, I remember being envious about it but, in the long run, I don’t think it helped those kids develop as people.

Self-discipline and the satisfaction of a job well done should be reward enough. Hard work and dedication brings its own rewards and fulfillment comes to those who value personal achievement over money and material possessions.

Let QPR be a lesson to Manchester City who, when they hand out £200,000 per week contracts, run the risk of effectively spoiling their kids. If they’re not motivated in the first place by the chance to play football for a Premier League team, then no amount of money is going to make a difference. Not in the long-run.

images: © p_a_h, © Tom Cuppens

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